An infrared bodycam is one of the most important pieces of equipment to take to your investigations. Put it on while you are still outside before you begin and don’t stop it until you are in your car. A lot of things seem to happen as investigations wind down, so don’t miss recording those. You can get a decent IR bodycam now for around $200.
Sufficient battery life between charges – at least 10 hours
Viewing screen – so you can see if you captured something without having to port the data to a computer.
Good resolution – the best you can afford. This helps you differentiate video artifacts from actual paranormal activity.
Auto-Infrared (ideally going to auto-infrared when conditions are too dark)
IR illuminators – you want as much illumination as you can get.
Automatic start when motion is detected sounds nice, but it will be on your body, so this feature is not all that useful. It’s more important to be sure it does not automatically shut off every five or 15 minutes. If there is an auto-shut-off, be certain you can get at least an hour of run time before turning it on again. This is usually something you can do in settings.
You are trying to capture everything within your field of vision as a backup to your other photography. A bodycam is not a replacement for an IR video camera, it is a backup for those times when you don’t get a good shot of something that happens, or when you want to confirm something you caught in your main camera.
IR Video Recorder
Photos are nice, but video is better. Video gives context, and shows others the environment, what was happening before and after an event, and is much better proof since it is more difficult to fake. You can also sweep around an object which may have moved, showing your audience there are no strings or other manipulators. Video also, of course, captures audio. While some researchers prefer having a separate audio source (especially for EVP sessions), you may find the audio on your video camera with the audio on your body camera is sufficient.
I will note that when you are doing EVP sessions, it is ideal to use a microphone, which may not be supported on your video camera. If you are shopping for video recorders, try to get one which supports exterior microphones. Like a bodycam, you will definitely want to have infrared illumination on your recorder. If you capture something in IR, an illuminator will help you see it much more clearly. There are several articles about infrared on this site. If you are unfamiliar with how infrared works, please read up on it here.
An environmental meters should be considered standard equipment, and provides important background data over time. Most environmental meters provide measurement such as Air Density, Air Flow (CFM), Altitude (Barometric), Barometric Pressure, Delta T, Density Altitude, Dew Point Temperature, Evaporation Rate, Heat Stress Index, Humidity Ratio, Relative Air Density, Relative Humidity, Station Pressure (Absolute Pressure), Temperature, Wet Bulb Temperature (Psychrometric), Wind Chill, Wind Speed/Air Speed, and so forth. Good ones will automatically record all this data so you can just turn it on and refer to it in your report. A decent unit can be purchased for under $300. I personally like to have the latest Kestrel model. If the study of hauntings is to progress, we must determine what, if any, environmental factors exist which are more conducive to their occurrence.
EMF (Electro-magnetic frequency) Detector
The EMF Detector is a ghost hunting classic, but what does it really do? At the beginning of each investigation, you will want to measure the amount of electromagnetic activity around each room. You will sweep the doorway from the bottom and along the sides to the top, then take measurements at the floor and ceiling in the middle of the room, and in each corner (floor, wall, ceiling). You will also want to take measurements wherever there has been reported activity (this is why having a thorough initial walkthrough with your client is imperative).
A high reading indicates there is electromagnetic activity, which is typically indicative of electrical wiring, or perhaps a fuse box. It is completely normal to have reading which vary by a few points, and even vary in the same spot by a few points. If there is wiring, your measurements may go up to 15 or even 20 or more, depending on the condition and amount of electrical wiring in the building. You are not so much looking at how high the numbers are as you are looking for an extreme variance in a single location associated with perceived activity.
For example, if I go to a wall, and get a measurement of 15, I will think there are probably multiple wires, or wires which are not well-insulated. This happens a lot in older buildings. I would not get excited unless that reading jumped up to 30, and was in a spot where activity was known to occur. That would help me focus on this area as a place to take videos and photographs, or perhaps run an EVP session. The higher reading itself does not mean there is a ghost there, and is not considered to be proof. Now if I had a reading of 15 or 20 all around the room I would probably want to look into why there was so much electromagnetic activity. I would be more concerned about wiring than I would be convinced of paranormal activity.
A final important note on EMF readings is that Canadian cognitive neuroscientist, Michael Persinger posited that very high, sustained EMF output has been associated with people feeling “a presence” (he is very careful to not call them hallucinations). A decrease is seen in the melatonin levels in the brain. This in turn causes tiny, epileptic-like seizures, and a feeling of something there. he says in one of his papers, “the possibility that they are associated with transient, altered thresholds in the ability to detect the normally indiscriminable stimuli cannot be excluded.” so it is hard to say what is happening here, do we create the entity we feel when exposed to high EMF levels, or do we sense an entity who was already there? Either way, it is pragmatic to at least record EMF levels so we can keep track to see if there is any real-world correlation.